Trump’s Travel Ban / The Plight of Nigeria Christians

As Islamic terror increases, a travel ban: President Trump has added six (6) new nations to the list of those with whom the United States bans most travel and immigration.

While five of those nations are almost 100% Muslim, one of them – Nigeria – is nearly 50% Christian. The travel bans the President has imposed are not by religion, but by location. The reason of course is the drastic increase in Islamic terror attacks and the difficulty in determining who can safely be allowed to travel to the United States.

The increase in the number of attacks against Christians in the last year resulted in the State Department adding Nigeria to a “Special Watch List” on December 18, 2019. The list is of governments that have engaged in or tolerated “severe violations of religious freedom.”

President Buhari is a Sunni Muslim from the Fulani Herdsmen tribe.

For the most part the State Department cited the persecution of Shia Muslims, which I found odd considering the number of direct attacks on Christians.

The travel ban proclaimed by President Trump, and the addition of Nigeria to the “Special Watch List” of nations that violate religious freedom are both steps forward to confront the Sunni Muslim president of Nigeria who allows the attacks on Christians and actively suppresses the Shia Muslim minority. Still, much harsher action is needed by the American government.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari blamed the opposition parties in Nigeria for the designation by the State Department. He claims “misinformation” was supplied to the American government, and that there is no religious repression in Nigeria.

Just prior to the 2019 presidential election, Buhari illegally fired the Christian Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Then Buhari replaced him with a Sunni Muslim who had been a “Sharia Judge” from a northern Muslim State. Former Chief Justice Samuel Onnoghen, a Christian, was removed one day before he was to swear in the new election panel. If the election results had been disputed, the Supreme Court would have had the final review.

Bluntly, President Buhari stacked the deck in the Court to make sure any “irregularities” in the election were not dealt with.

In his response to Nigeria being placed on the “Special Watch List” President Buhari sited “The deliberate effort to give religious coloration to the farmers-herders clashes” in the Middle Belt. “Clashes?” How is an entire Christian congregation being hacked to death with machetes inside their church during a service a “clash?”

Burhari and his government consistently try to portray the slaughter of Christian farmers and the theft of their lands as something other than a religious war. It is about something else, it is about stealing Christian lands, killing the men and enslaving the Christian girls who are taken as “wives.”

Delivering aid to displaced Christians at IDP camp in Benue State.

I have been to the IDP camps in Benue State like the one at right. Those camps hold tens of thousands of Christians who have been driven from their lands in Benue State which is 98% Christian. So why are there no Muslim IDP camps in Nigeria, if this is a “clash” or “conflict?” Why are all of the dead Christian?

“IDP” is the official United Nations term for Internally Displaced Persons … in other words, people who are refugees in their own nations. All of the IDP’s in Nigeria are Christians.

The orphanage supported by the Religious Freedom Coalition is located in Plateau State. That is one of the states in the so called “Middle Belt” between the Muslim north that is totally under Sharia law, and the southern states which are controlled by Christians and are secular.

In January 2020 at least 32 Christians were killed, and during two nights of attacks last week, a church building and pastor’s home were burned down in Plateau State by Sunni Muslim tribesmen. The Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) building and the pastor’s home were both destroyed in the predominantly Christian village of Marish on January 27th. Also, three communities in Bokkos County underwent a series of armed assaults. There was no reaction from President Buhari.

A few weeks earlier, four students from Aid to the Church in Need, a Catholic charity, were kidnapped and murdered. There are numerous murders of three of four Christians at a time that I have found in local Nigerian newspapers just this year that were not reported in the United States. Most times unless the death toll is over 50 or 100, the stories never reach American news outlets. Also, tragically, there are a lot of young Christian girls kidnapped for forced marriages.

A harsher response from President Trump is needed. He has taken decisive action that has changed the relationship with Nigeria, but more needs to be done. Putting Nigeria on a list is not punishing the leadership enough to stop the violence. The Nigerian leaders must be hit in the purse to stop the violence and the best way to do that is to sanction Nigerian oil output.

Nigeria is not a big player in the oil market, but the money that comes in from state oil sales funds a lot of the corruption. President Trump has cut off almost all exports of Iranian oil, showing that the United States does have the ability to do just that. Now it is time to bring the same sanctions against Nigerian oil exports.

Nigerian oil exports need to be brought to a halt until President Buhari understands that he must change course and stop the persecution of Christians. But does he really have the ability to do that?

Buhari is a Sunni Muslim Fulani Herdsman. Overwhelmingly, the attacks against Christians in the “Middle Belt” are being done by Sunni Muslim Fulani Herdsmen. Yes, Buhari can stop his herdsmen brethren from attacking Christians and stealing their land!

If he won’t, then I urge President Trump to take action – to sanction Nigerian oil now.

Taking this request to the President: I have spoken with Ambassador Brownback about the continuing situation in Nigeria, and he has made an official visit there. The word is getting back to President Trump that action must be taken, but I believe we must show him that the American people will be behind him in an election year.

Over the next few weeks my office will design and post an online petition to President Trump asking for actions to sanction President Buhari and his oil.

William J.Murray, President

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